Michael Crichton is my favourite author of all time. Even if you do not know him, you probably would have seen one of the movies based on his books. From blockbusters like Jurassic Park, Congo, and Lost World, to middling fare like Sphere, 13th Warrior , Timeline etc. He has 14 movies made alongside all the bestsellers he has written over the years.
I suddenly thought about him this afternoon and did a quick google on his name. Clicking on the first link in the results brought me to his wikipedia page. Firstly, despite being a so-called fan, I did not realise that he had a half-finished novel called Micro, which was released towards the end of 2011. It was finished by another author called Richard Preston. I will be making a point to check out both the final book and the work of Richard Preston in future.
But the point of this post was not to talk about Micro. It’s about Michael Crichton, the man. Or more specifically the novellist, since I never really cared for ER. Reading through the entire wiki which made him sound like a god amongst men. (He was even voted into the fifty most beautiful people of 1992 in People magazine.), I noticed a quick tidbit about him towards the end of the article. It described the writing process of the man himself.
Crichton was a workaholic. When drafting a novel, which would typically take him six or seven weeks, Crichton withdrew completely to follow what he called “a structured approach” of ritualistic self-denial. As he neared writing the end of each book, he would rise increasingly early each day, meaning that he would sleep for less than four hours by going to bed at 10 pm and waking at 2 am.
Source – Wikipedia
That scares me honestly. I have heard of method actors like Christian Bale losing themselves in their character when preparing for the role, which usually involved them becoming skinnier perversions of themselves overnight, but I did not know writers can apply it to their writing as well. Michael Crichton might be the first author I know with his own sadistic approach to writing.
Looking at Crichton’s books, most of them follow a similar story pattern. Long windy intro which requires the assembly of a far-flung group of subject matter experts thrown into science fiction scenarios, the story tends to plod on between content and elaborate explanations until BAM! someone realises a flaw in the theory and everything suddenly goes to hell. The story then accelerates, reaching an action-packed kill or be-killed crescendo before slowing down again.
I wonder if there is a link between his approach and the writing. Does the acceleration start when he starts going into his end-zone? Is this what I need to become in order to go from a quiet writer describing weird science and elaborate science fiction plots to a mad man raving about blood splatters on the wall and getting chewed on by dinosaurs?
The less you sleep… the shorter your scenes become, the shorter your temper and the faster the action flies?
Someone please try this out and let me know.
- Ernest Hemmingway: How To Write Fiction (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- Ten Fiction Pitfalls (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)
- How To Spice Up Dialogue (wilsonkhoo.wordpress.com)